Airline app one of many possibilities at Startup Weekend

Bradie Gray

Engineering, business and English students alike will be competing in Startup Weekend Evansville 4.0 February 20-22 at the Business and Engineering Center.

Earlier this month, students were encouraged to sign up for the event, for the first 12 students who did so would have their tickets paid for by the Romain College of Business.

The announcement was made February 5 and all 12 spots have already been filled.

“It’s grown to be the largest event of its kind in the state of Indiana, but Startup Weekend is a global movement and all events follow sort of the same format and structure with some regional or local customizations where they put a local spin on it,” said Bryan Bourdeau, co-founder of Startup Weekend Evansville.

Bourdeau said some of the event’s success could be credited to its myriad of sponsors, including USI Romain College of Business; Vectren; Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville; Lieberman Technologies and Sigarama.

The popularity of Startup Weekend among various students and Evansville residents also pushed the event to what it is now.

“We’ve had participants that are eight years old who pitch ideas all the way up to people in their 80’s so its wide open,” Bourdeau said. “Anybody who has a great idea and wants to see it be validated, to see that it works and does it solve a real problem should participate.”

Bourdeau said he sees students come from all over the region with different backgrounds, majors and minors compete and produce good ideas.

“We’ve seen everything from innovative surge protectors to mushroom growing kits; everything across the board. It doesn’t have to be tech-based. You never know what you’re going to get and what’s going to move forward,” he said.

The event is spread over the duration of three days.

All participants will be given 60 seconds to pitch their ideas on the first day.

During the pitch, the contest hopefuls will introduce themselves, introduce their idea, the market they’re targeting and what they still need to advance the product.

The crowd will then be given the opportunity to vote for up to three ideas to move on to the second round. Those who are not picked will be allowed to piggyback on other teams who make it to day two.

“In essence, they’re giving a shout out to the crowd on the Friday,” Bourdeau said. “Maybe they don’t know anything about web programming or marketing research or maybe they’re an engineer but need those people to help them out.”

On the second day, the teams will sign up for mentors to help push their idea further.

On the last day, or Demo Day, the winners will be announced.

Prizes include $2,000 in idea development scholarships, $2,400 in transferable memberships for Innovation Station co-work space, and $500 in software services from Lieberman Technologies.

Junior engineering major Adam Buddemeyer said he is pretty confident his “Jet Buddy” app will make it past the first round.

Buddemeyer said his app is very similar to the premise of “Gas Buddy” in the sense that it’s and iOS/Android application where the user can upload data about flight duration (as opposed to gas prices) to different airlines. In short, the app would be a way for the user to pick the cheapest, most efficient flight to book.

“Everyone wants to be on time to business meetings, be by their dying relatives side, or avoid just wasting time,” Buddemeyer said. “I think airline companies would promote this if it mean they would receive more customers.”

There are currently no apps on the market like Jet Buddy that offer a sorting option like speed efficiency for the user, only take-off and arrival times.

“I think anyone interested in any sort of business or engineering should attend,” Buddemeyer said. “You really see the process of the business world and learn how to think outside of the box.”

Tickets will be $30 for the general public and $25 for students and will be available for purchase at the door. The cost covers meals, materials, and access to coaches.